The former president of the Philippine Forest Corp. is now living in a safe house. And, no pun intended, he has become a household name—at least for a segment of our population who eat politics for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between. Thanks to extensive coverage by the media of the Senate inquiry on scuttled national broadband network (NBN) transaction, and its spin-offs.
So what is my take on Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr.? First, his eyebrows sag just like those of another “former,” ex-House of Representatives Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. So he shares de Venecia’s sad look, though not his ears. Definitely, Lozada is better looking. But the sad look is deceptive, especially because Lozada seems to over-emphasize it by crying ever so often in public, probably to make him look more pitiable and credible.
But his knowledge on who would have gotten kickbacks out of the NBN deal had the project pushed through is very limited. That’s why presidential son Mikey Arroyo is egging him to bring his testimony, especially against First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, to the courts and former Comelec Commissioner Benjamin Abalos, whom he accused of being the main seeker of billions of pesos in “Commission,” has vowed to file a libel suit against him.
That does not exonerate Abalos, the First Gentleman and even President Arroyo herself. There seems to be truth to accusation they possess, possibly insatiable, “greed.” But Lozada is but the side kick of the NBN transaction’s main man, former socio-economic secretary Romulo Neri. Had it been Neri, all hell would have broken loose. That’s why I don’t think the effort of Arroyo critics to whip up a frenzy over Lozada’s testimony won’t work. Oust Arroyo moves will again end up as duds.
But I say the Arroyo administration is on the verge of crumbling. One more nudge from a credible witness and I doubt if it can hold on to Malacañang much longer. It’s just a pity no credible alternative in the opposition is visible.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, Feb. 14, 2008